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Tsitsi Dangarembga On Decolonisation, Healing From Empire’s Wounds & The Responsibility Of The Diaspora

If you know anything about African literature, you should know that Nervous Conditions, the first novel from Zimbabwean novelist, playwright and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga, is a classic. The novel was the first to be published by a Black Zimbabwean woman in English and a year after publication, it won the Commonwealth Prize. Thirty years later, the BBC named it one of 100 books that has changed the world.

Despite this, it wasn’t until Tsitsi was arrested by the Zimbabwean government in 2020 while her third novel, This Mournable Body, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, that her artistic contributions and cultural significance became more widely known.

Two years on from that arrest, and while still being persecuted and harassed in the courts by the Zimbabwean government, Tsitsi’s first collection of nonfiction essays, Black and Female, has been published. The collection forms a companion to her fiction,, as well as diving into her personal experience of being privately fostered as a child by a white English family living in Dover.